Is it all over for the Audi R8? Every year, Ingolstadt releases an expensive new special edition of the car but changes little else. There's a lot of uncertainty around the future of Audi's only supercar, and it seems that the Volkswagen-owned brand is unwilling to commit to killing it or redesigning it just yet, presumably because developing a new version of the V10 coupe would be just as unreasonable as creating a hybrid or electric version while there's still money to be made off the R8's 5.2-liter Lamborghini Huracán-sourced engine. So the R8 follows the same recipe as before, it seems. Or does it? With the cheapest R8 now a rear-wheel-drive model with "only" 562 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, the R8's most fun drivetrain variant is also the most affordable. The full-fat quattro model with 602 hp and 413 lb-ft is still offered with AWD security too. Something for everyone? Maybe the R8 still has some life in it after all.
This year, the entry-level RWD model gets a power and torque boost. Outputs increase from 532 hp and 398 lb-ft to 562 hp and 406 lb-ft. With the more power comes a name change for the RWD model and it adopts the same "performance" moniker as its quattro stablemate - it's now the V10 performance RWD. A new available Dynamic package adds unique 20-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, and racing seats upholstered in Nappa leather. A new Sport Exhaust package is also now available.
See trim levels and configurations:
So how does it drive? Well, depending on which model you're behind the wheel of, the answer can be quite different. On the RWD model, power goes to the rear wheels only. What does this mean? The ability to perform smokey burnouts and lurid slides with relative ease. But don't think that this is as well balanced as competitors like the Ferrari F8 Tributo or your average Porsche. Sure, it's good, but there's a purity of purpose that is missing, and one gets the feeling that this was always meant to be something else (an AWD vehicle). That said, there is a clear sharpness that is missing when you get into the quattro model. But fear not. While it sounds like we're downplaying the abilities of the R8, it's still a phenomenal machine and has a remarkable level of feel and feedback from the steering wheel, feel that is fast becoming a rare and precious commodity in the world of electric steering systems. And while the quattro model does feel a little less lively, the feeling of security provided by AWD when you have over 600 hp under your right foot cannot be overstated. In daily driving, the quattro model is a little harsher than the regular version because it doesn't have the cheaper variant's adaptive dampers, but it's not jarring or uncomfortable. Overall, this is still one of the most user-friendly and outright usable supercars on the market.
The Audi R8 is still one of the easiest supercars to live with on a daily basis, and if you don't know anything about the car, that statement may lead you to believe that the R8 is not quite up to the standard set by the likes of Lamborghini and Porsche. To be fair, this isn't as sharp as a 911 Turbo and doesn't have quite the same level of visual drama as a Huracán, but it remains a monstrous machine that can get to 60 mph in as little as 3.2 seconds. It can also rip up an abandoned highway at over 200 mph (not that we would condone such a thing without the proper protocols). Besides its figures on paper, it sounds brilliant, and as one of the very few V10 supercars still breathing - and on its own without turbos, no less - one cannot understate its importance to aficionados of wailing crescendos. But most attractive of all is the fact that this is a supercar that, for better or worse, carries an Audi badge and drives like one in many ways. It's comfortable, warms your butt on cold days, and is easy to get familiar with. Being able to see out of it with relative ease is another plus point. Basically, this is more than a cut-rate Lambo. This is a car all its own, one that just so happens to be exotic yet remains down to earth. Want one? We do.
Following on from the Black Series version of the AMG GT taking the Nürburgring record in 2020, the regular GT is getting a lot more attention from those who would never have otherwise considered it. Okay, it's not as powerful as the Black Series, but the regular GT is still plenty strong enough. Its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 develops 523 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque, but with a more traditional front-engine layout, it's got a reasonable trunk too. The interior also follows a more common theme with its central infotainment screen. However, much like the R8, advanced features - whether for safety or convenience - are in short supply. With power only ever going to the rear wheels, this is also a supercar not recommended for those with little confidence behind the wheel. But if you're into a more old-school vibe, the Merc is where it's at.
The Porsche 911 has been the everyday supercar since anyone could remember and the latest iteration does not put a foot wrong. The 911 Turbo is a devastatingly effective device and is priced halfway between the RWD and quattro R8s. It represents a totally different approach with its twin-turbocharged flat-six engine and towering performance. Even the normal Turbo slashes half a second off the R8 quattro's 0-60 mph time. It is also more practical, with more luggage space and tiny rear seats suitable for small children. However, it does not offer the emotion of the Audi's high-revving naturally aspirated V10. There is nothing to touch the RWD R8 for raw driving appeal, fun, and excitement at the price and it would be the default choice for the hardcore enthusiast who want to hang out the tail on track days. At the $200k level, though, the Porker does offer far better value, practicality, and performance than the R8 quattro and the ageing Audi offers a less compelling argument against the superbly competent and far newer Porsche.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Audi R8 Coupe: